Here are the main events that occurred in Politics this week:
1. Democrats Being Formulating Coronavirus Relief Package
Democrats in Congress on February 2 took the first steps toward advancing President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion Coronavirus aid plan without Republican support. The Senate voted along party lines, with Democrats edging out Republicans 50-49, to open debate on a fiscal 2021 budget resolution with coronavirus aid spending instructions. Using this strategy unlocks a legislative tool needed for Democrats to enact Biden’s package in the face of Republican opposition. Republicans used the ploy when they controlled Congress in 2017 to pass then-President Donald Trump’s tax cut bill without Democratic support. Republicans have pushed back on the plan’s price tag, which follows $4 trillion in Coronavirus aid last year. Later on February 2, the House followed the Senate to begin debate on the budget resolution, voting 216-210, with no Republicans joining in support. The debates are expected to last through the week. Once the budget resolution is passed, Democrats will still have to write a separate, detailed Coronavirus relief bill, meaning it could be early to mid-March before final votes are cast on a bill for President Biden to sign into law.
2. President Joe Biden Begins Rollback Of Hardline Trump-Era Immigration Policies
US President Joe Biden on February 2 ordered a review of asylum processing at the US-Mexico border and the immigration system as he seeks to undo some of former President Donald Trump’s hardline policies. President Biden also created a task force to reunite migrant families who were separated at the border by Trump’s 2018 “zero tolerance” strategy. “We are going to work to undo the moral and national shame of the previous administration that literally, not figuratively, ripped children from the arms of their families,” Biden said, as he signed the three immigration-related executive orders at the White House. The executive orders called for a dizzying array of reviews and reports that could trigger policy changes in the weeks and months ahead, but provide limited immediate relief to immigrants barred by Trump-era rules.
3. CDC Implements Sweeping Order Mandating Masks On Public Transportation AS Coronavirus Cases Surge
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a sweeping order late on January 28 requiring the use of face masks on nearly all forms of public transportation as of February 1 as the country continues to report thousands of daily Coronavirus deaths. The order, which takes effect at 11:59 p.m. EST on February 1, requires face masks to be worn by all travelers on airplanes, ships, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares and at transportation hubs like airports, bus or ferry terminals, train and subway stations and seaports. President Joe Biden on January 21 ordered government agencies to “immediately take action” to require masks in airports and on commercial aircraft, trains and public maritime vessels, including ferries, intercity bus services and all public transportation. Under former President Donald Trump, a CDC push to mandate masks in transit was blocked, and the agency instead only issued strong recommendations for mask use. President Trump also rejected efforts by Congress to mandate mask use. “Requiring masks on our transportation systems will protect Americans and provide confidence that we can once again travel safely even during this pandemic,” said the 11-page order signed by Marty Cetron, director for CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine.
4. Dozens of Former Bush Administration Officials Leave Republican Party, Calling It A “Trump Cult
Dozens of Republicans who served in former President George W. Bush’s administration are leaving the party, dismayed by a failure of many elected Republicans to disown former President Donald Trump after his false claims of election fraud sparked a deadly storming of the US Capitol last month. These officials, some who served in the highest echelons of the Bush administration, said they had hoped that a Trump defeat would lead party leaders to move on from the former president and denounce his baseless claims that the November presidential election was stolen. But with most Republican lawmakers sticking to Trump, these officials say they no longer recognize the party they served. Some have ended their membership, others are letting it lapse while a few are newly registered as independents, according to a dozen former Bush officials who spoke with Reuters.